Why Agriculture Biosecurity Is Needed More Than Ever Before

Protecting the safety and welfare of livestock has never been a more pressing issue. As the human population deals with the coronavirus outbreak, agricultural leaders are placing renewed attention on their biosecurity protocols. For example, swine producers are ever vigilant about the possibility of African Swine Flu (ASF). To combat the risk, hog operations are increasingly turning to automation to track and monitor animal movements.

The Threat of African Swine Flu

Pig producers are already experts at managing multiple tiers of animal movement. Compared to other markets, such as poultry or cattle, farrow-to-finish operations must document movements between sow farms, weaning nurseries, finish barns, and processing sites. Beyond logistics, tracking animal transfers is critical for disease prevention and response.

African Swine Flu virus (AFSV) is a particularly devastating hemorrhagic virus that is a major risk to the swine population. While there have been no cases in the United States, the virus has spread to several continents through global trade. Precautions are necessary as “there is no treatment or vaccine available for this disease. The only way to stop it is to depopulate all affected or exposed swine herds.

Operators must abide by emergency protocols in the event that a sick animal enters the food supply. Circumventing ASFV includes strict measures such as “quarantine and movement control, biosecurity, surveillance, and cleaning and disinfection.” The USDA’s “stamp-out” strategies are designed to “prevent contact between ASFV and susceptible animals, stop the production of ASFV by infected or exposed animals, and stop the transmission of ASFV by vectors.

In order to bolster biosecurity, the USDA advises to “keep detailed records of all people, vehicles, and equipment at your farm or other pig production facilities.” This allows an operation to implement avoidance zones in the event of not only ASF but other contagious conditions like classical swine fever (CSF), porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), erysipelas, salmonellosis, Aujeszky’s disease (or pseudorabies), and Pasteurellosis infections.

The Risk of Outdated Tracking Methods

The problem with tracking animal movements is that many swine operators rely on spreadsheet methods such as Excel. These workbooks are ineffective for multiple reasons:

  • They are hard to share between multiple users, such as drivers, loaders, and site supervisors.
  • Because the file can’t be updated simultaneously across all recipients, the spreadsheet has to be resent whenever there’s a schedule or location change.
  • Even if an operation has tracking software, it’s generally limited to individual stages rather than linked to the entire operation and isn’t integrated into a single dashboard.

This tracking inefficiency becomes a nightmare scenario in the event of an epidemic. Not only must an operation halt all animal movements, but it becomes responsible for collecting blood samples for testing. How can these biosecurity protocols be put in action swiftly and effectively if you don’t have visibility into every facet of your operations?

Agistics – An Automated Solution

Imagine every step of your swine operations documented with a complete audit trail and real-time information. Everything is accessible from a single dashboard with scheduling abilities that can be pushed to all users. You can also build in your unique biosecurity protocols into the platform so they can be deployed rapidly.

Agistics is designed to keep animals protected from pathogens while streamlining the field-to-table supply chain. This logistics solution includes:

  • Integrated schedule and communications
  • Real-time biohazard alerts
  • Truck wash verification
  • Benchmarking data and reports
  • GPS order route data

Agistics is a collaboration between Lean TECHniques and DP Techlink. This product builds on the capabilities of DP’s FeedTrackur, which manages feed orders from the mill to the farm.

Please visit the Agistics website or contact Mike Shindelar, CEO of DP Techlink.